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This paper explains the challenges and addresses the benefits associated with utilizing products that provide multiple communications paths. Methods for employing IP networks for real time information collection will be discussed. Communications schemes are presented with traditional media including audio, digital, fiber, and IP networks. Examples of how analog data, status points, and HMI information can be transported on these networks are also described. The technology also simplifies connectivity, reduces hardware and potential failures, and offers a variety of diagnostics monitoring both at the equipment level as well as the system level. New methods will be shown that can decrease the communication's systems complexities even further to lower costs, improve system performance, and increase overall system reliability and MTBF.